I woke this morning to learn that Pete Seeger died yesterday.
It wasn't a surprise. He was ninety-four and had been hospitalized for almost a week, but it's still sad news.
Whether we knew it or not, most of us growing up in the 1960's owed a lot to Pete Seeger. Pete was responsible, more than any other single individual, for the explosion of the popularity of folk music, which was one of the fundamental pillars of the music of the 1960's and beyond.
Without Pete would we have had Bob Dylan, The Band, The Byrds, and the countless musicians who followed in their footsteps? It's doubtful. Or at least, we might have had Bob Dylan but he might not have been Bob Dylan.
Pete was a seemingly inexhaustible font of folk music, the people's music, from America and around the world. Even more, though, he was an inexhaustible source of energy and inspiration for musicians and activists everywhere. At a time when musicians were mainly cast in the bland, conventional mold of Pat Boone or Patty Page, Pete's music, and everything he did, was informed by the radical political views he never hesitated to share with the public, even at the expense of record sales, bookings, or congressional investigation.
I got to meet Pete once, when he came to sing at the inner city high school in Paterson, N.J. where my mother taught, but he was a presence in my life from the first time I heard him on the first Clancy Brothers album we had in my family.
Remember Pete's life and work, and enjoy his music.